ALERT: Coronavirus Pandemic Event Now A Serious Risk

Note: An ALERT is only issued when events cause me to take personal actions. I am preparing for the possibility of a global pandemic that will arrive in my own country. You should, too. This is the sort of on-the-spot analysis and reporting that we routinely offer to our subscribers but, due to the nature of this threat, we are making it public.

UPDATE#2 (1.26.20, 2:14pm ET): After reading the below article, you can access ALL of our daily updates, reports, videos and podcasts in our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak by clicking here.

UPDATE#1 (1.24.20, 12:45pm ET): In addition to the live updates being provided in the Comments section below, we’ve just posted a follow-up report for our premium subscribers covering preparations should this outbreak worsen.

The coronavirus is currently sweeping across China. So far, it has all the hallmarks of a potential true pandemic outbreak.

While it could still (and hopefully will) be contained and burn itself out, the chances of that are slipping by the hour.

If an actual pandemic breaks out, expect the following to happen quickly:

  • Travel within and especially between countries will be restricted if not completely banned
  • Critical shortages of materials will develop, especially medical supplies, doubly especially antivirals.
  • In cities with lockdowns or quarantines, food will disappear rapidly from shelves.
Pro tip: N95 face masks are already rapidly disappearing form Amazon and other retailers. If you can’t order online, then get yourself down to Home Depot pronto to get a stash of masks for you and your family (something we’ve recommended as a part of routine preparations for years). However, don't be a hoarder. Buy only what you really need. The time to responsibly stock up was before now.

A Quick Primer On Viruses

When I was getting my PhD through the Duke Medical school, there was a debate as to whether viruses even qualified as being a lifeform. That debate still carries on.

A virus is a protein encapsulated set of genetic instructions. Just some DNA or RNA surrounded by a complex shell that can ‘dock’ with a specific living host cell. All viruses completely lack the ability to reproduce themselves. They require the hijacking of the active replicating machinery of a host cell to reproduce and multiply.

Viruses are everywhere. A single drop of clear seawater may contain 10 million virus particles on average. You encounter them everyday. Your body already has natural immunity against hundreds of different virus types.

The problem comes in when a new virus enters the game, one which your body has not seen before, and against which you have no immunity.

An even bigger problem emerges when ‘the herd’ has not seen it before either and there’s no herd immunity to block its spread.

The biggest problem emerges when such a new virus emerges (usually by ‘jumping’ from a non-human species to humans) has the ability to spread easily between humans. By contrast, a virus that requires some sort of a host vector such as a mosquito or a tick is much more easily contained.

The Coronavirus

The coronavirus currently in question derives its name from the spiky crown of proteins (Corona = Crown) that are seen under magnification.

It first erupted on Wuhan China, and is thought to possibly have jumped from a snake species to humans:

Wuhan coronavirus may have been transmitted to people from snakes

Jan 22, 2020

A new coronavirus that has claimed 17 lives in Wuhan, China, may have been transmitted to people from snakes, according to a genetic analysis. The snakes may have caught the virus from bats in the food market in which both animals were sold.

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Especially among a tightly-packed human population with a proclivity for eating many different forms of wild animals.

This virus has all the statistical and virologic markers to be a true pandemic – the sort that the world has been luckily spared for many decades. But which nature and history shows us is always an inevitability.

According to the WHO’s guidance document on pandemics, this new coronavirus is already well on its way to being a full-blown pandemic:

We are already at Phase 4. Things get really serious at Phases 5 & 6.

All we need to move to Phase 5 is for another country to report a sustained outbreak – something that seems all but certain at this point. Then it will be Game On.

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“It’s Contained!”

Early reports on the media have been underselling the severity. This is expected.

For some reason governments across the world long ago decided that ‘not panicking’ people was more important than providing timely, accurate, risk-balanced information.

The straight-up lying about the Fukushima disaster was one example.

China lied like crazy about the SARS outbreak a number of years ago. And they’re certainly being less than fully revealing about this outbreak.

As of this morning (6:35 am, 1/23/20) there are two major Chinese cities under a full quarantine. Wuhan with 11 million people and Huanggang with another 6 million people:

Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.

The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended on Thursday morning and people were told not to leave. Hours later, state media in neighboring Huanggang, a city of some 6 million people, said it was imposing a similar lockdown.

(Source – Reuters)

Compounding the difficulty for Chinese authorities is that all of this coincides with the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions of Chinese typically travel about.

That’s just a recipe for disaster here.

By The Numbers

To truly appreciate and estimate the possible impact of an emerging pandemic there are a few things to know.

First, how lethal is the virus? That is, how many people die as a result of contracting the virus? This is called the “case fatality rate” or CFR in virologist lingo.

Second, how easily does it spread between victims? This measure goes by the name “R0” or “R-naught”, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The CFR of this coronavirus is not really known yet because we don’t trust the numbers coming out of China. But the numbers we’ve got are not encouraging. In Wuhan, there are a reported 444 cases and 17 deaths.

That yields a CFR of 3.8%. There’s also been reports of 555 infections, which would yield a CFR of 3.0%. Let’s use that, while reserving the right to seriously amend these numbers when better data comes along.

The Spanish flu of 1918 which was the last true global pandemic, had a CFR of 2.5%. It was horrible and killed an estimated 50 – 60 million people. True, we’ve got substantially better containment protocols today, but they clearly are not perfect.

If a virus is ‘too lethal’ and kills above a certain threshold, it will burn itself out quickly. The 3% CFR of this coronavirus is in the ‘sweet spot’ for doing a lot of damage.

Next, it’s the contagious aspect of this particular virus that’s most worrying to me. Let’s dive into the R-naught value for a minute:

What do R0 Values Mean?

R0 is pronounced “R naught.” It’s a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It’s also referred to as the reproduction number. As an infection spreads to new people, it reproduces itself.

R0 tells you the average number of people who will catch a disease from one contagious person. It specifically applies to a population of people who were previously free of infection and haven’t been vaccinated. If a disease has an R0 of 18, a person who has the disease will transmit it to an average of 18 other people, as long as no one has been vaccinated against it or is already immune to it in their community.

What do R0 values mean?

Three possibilities exist for the potential spread or decline of a disease, depending on its R0 value:

If R0 is less than 1, each existing infection causes less than one new infection. In this case, the disease will decline and eventually die out.

If R0 equals 1, each existing infection causes one new infection. The disease will stay alive and stable, but there won’t be an outbreak or an epidemic.

If R0 is more than 1, each existing infection causes more than one new infection. The disease will spread between people, and there may be an outbreak or epidemic.

Importantly, a disease’s R0 value only applies when everyone in a population is completely vulnerable to the disease. This means:

  • no one has been vaccinated
  • no one has had the disease before
  • there’s no way to control the spread of the disease
This combination of conditions is rare nowadays thanks to advances in medicine.

(Source – Healthline)

Here’s what we know – the R0 of this virus is way above zero. We don’t have a solid value yet, but our clue lies in the fact that a reported 15 healthcare workers in Wuhan contracted the disease from being around their patients.

These would be people using the very latest in protective measures, too – masks, gloves, proper handwashing, and even full hazmat suits.

The one case in Hong Kong turned into 5 as the entire family of an infected person came down with the disease.

So this R0 is pretty worrying.

Finally, it’s those last three bullet points above that set off my alarm bells here:

  • no one has been vaccinated
  • no one has had the disease before
  • there’s no way to control the spread of the disease
Check, check and check.

Combine those with a high R0 and now you know why China has just clamped down and quarantined two major cities with a combined 17 million people in them.

The Nightmare Begins

My personal nightmare is being played out in those quarantined Chinese cities. Locked in with possibly contaminated people whom I have to battle and engage with for rapidly dwindling resources.

Already, within hours, reports of scuffles for food have been reported.


People didn't have much time to prepare or react. It was a matter of hours between "normal" and everything being placed into lockdown:
NZers trapped in China megacity Wuhan as virus spreads

Jan 23, 2020

At least 17 people are dead and more than 500 infected in China alone, as the virus spreads from Wuhan to other provinces and countries.

Public transport in the Chinese mega-city, with a population of more than 11 million, has been suspended. Residents have been advised to stay put as the response to the outbreak ramps up.

Auckland man Mr Li, who didn’t want his full name used, said on Tuesday people were still shopping and travelling, and the streets were bustling with people.

Roughly 48 hours later, the city had gone into lockdown. For him, it started with friends and relatives cancelling planned parties and gatherings.

“The face masks were all sold out. There were queues in front of every pharmacy. The usually crowded shopping malls are entirely different. The shops are all open but there’s barely any customers. The subway stations, which should be noisy and crowded in the New Year’s season, are almost empty,” he said.

He said anyone seen in public was wearing a mask.

“Starting from yesterday, the whole city started to feel more nervous. All the things and all the conversations in our social media group are around the virus infection.”

Li said he didn’t believe it when he first heard about the likelihood of locking down the city, comparable in size to London.

He had been planning to come back to Auckland in two days, but had to start changing his plans unsure when the travel restrictions would be lifted.

“At five o’clock China time this morning, the Chinese Central Television Station Channel One said from ten o’clock this morning, all of the buses, subways, airport - and I’ve just heard that all the motorways - will be closed down temporarily.”

It was just a matter of hours from the first inklings to complete shutdown.

The Chinese authorities are reacting promptly and vigorously because they’ve got the data. They know how dangerous this all could be if it becomes a full-blown pandemic. We’ll see if their authoritarian government can manage to suppress this. But if not, I expect western governments stand even less of a chance.


Coronavirus: panic and anger in Wuhan as China orders city into lockdown

Supermarket shelves empty and face masks sell out as residents retreat indoors

Jan 23, 2020

A sense of panic has spread in Wuhan as the Chinese city of 11 million people was put on lockdown in an attempt to quarantine a deadly virus believed to have originated there.

On Thursday, authorities banned all transport links from the city, suspending buses, the subway system, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.

Nearby Huanggang and Ezhou suspended buses, subways and ferries and shut the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.

In Wuhan, supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel amid rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.

Few pedestrians were on the street and families cancelled plans to get together for the Chinese New Year holiday. Special police forces were seen patrolling railway stations. Residents and all government workers are now required to wear face masks while in public spaces.

“When I saw the news when I woke up, I felt like I was going to go crazy. This is a little too late now. The government’s measures are not enough,” said Xiao, 26, a primary school teacher in Wuhan, who asked not to give her full name.


We’re going to be tracking this on an hourly basis. Wherever you live you should be taking standard precautions right now. Stock up on food, get yourself proper face masks, and be prepared should you need to be locked down for days/weeks.

The chance of that happening in your country may yet be small (for now), but it’s well above zero. So, don’t screw around with this one.

This is the most serious pandemic-worthy risk we’ve come across since SARS.

Of course, as we’ve long advised, you should always be prepared for such an event anyway as part of being a prudent adult.

My own personal remedy kit includes a hefty supply of elderberry syrup which I make from dried berries. You can buy it as well. For those who are scientifically-minded there are numerous peer-reviewed, double blind studies showing that elderberry syrup has pronounced anti-viral activities.

See here and here as well as here.

No, elderberry syrup does not prevent one from getting the flu or a cold. But it does knock the symptoms in half, and it reduces the recovery time by half which means it gives you much better odds: 50% x 50% = 25%

With only a quarter of the ‘experience’ a patient has a much better chance for survival, I figure. I have no idea if it works on this coronavirus, but elderberry syrup has prevented me from getting a full-blown flu or any serious cold for more than a decade. I swear by it.

Beyond that, your best chance of avoiding catching something involves staying away from people, washing your hands fastidiously, wearing a mask when you have to be around others, properly shaming those idiots who proudly show up to events/work sick and coughing, not touching public surfaces (railings, knobs, etc), and never, ever wiping your eyes or touching your nose or mouth before washing your hands.

We’ll be tracking the breaking developments on this coronavirus outbreak hourly. Check back in with us regularly for updates.

Update 1.24.20, 12:45pm ET: Given the worsening conditions within China and the continued spread of the coronavirus strain to other countries, including the US, we have just released the report Our Recommendations For Pandemic Preparation to our premium subscribers.

In it, we detail the havoc a widespread pandemic can wreak and provide the steps and solutions prudent households should take now in advance of such a crisis.

Click here to read the report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Here’s the basic info on the coronavirus from the CDC…mostly these are the source of the common cold, and derive their name from the spiky protrusions on their outside coating that is said to resemble a crown (hence “Corona”): Common human coronaviruses Common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time. Symptoms may include
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell
Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults. Other human coronaviruses Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms. MERS symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died. MERS cases continue to occur, primarily in the Arabian Peninsula. SARS symptoms often included fever, chills, and body aches which usually progressed to pneumonia. No human cases of SARS have been reported anywhere in the world since 2004. Transmission Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands rarely, fecal contamination In the United States, people usually get infected with common human coronaviruses in the fall and winter. However, you can get infected at any time of the year. Most people will get infected with one or more of the common human coronaviruses in their lifetime. Young children are most likely to get infected. However, people can have multiple infections in their lifetime. Prevention How to protect yourself There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection. You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands avoid close contact with people who are sick For information about hand washing, see CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives! How to protect others If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by doing the following
  • stay home while you are sick
  • avoid close contact with others
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
Treatment There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms take pain and fever medications (Caution: do not give Aspirin to children) use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough. If you are mildly sick, you should drink plenty of liquids stay home and rest. If you are concerned about your symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider.

The details are still sketchy, but this is a careful summary of what’s known from the Imperial College of London’s disease specialists.
Importantly, the period between infection and detection is thought to be 5-6 days. Another 4-5 days between symptoms and detection.
They note that the initial report/alert to the WHO was Dec 31st 2019. Wuhan airport was closed down yesterday, 1/22/20.
They also noted that “Total volume of international travel from Wuhan over the last two months has been 3,301 passengers per day” So … 3,301 x 22 days = in excess of 72,000 possibly infected carriers that went who knows where.

Source - Background On the 31st December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China [1]. A novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) related to the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus (SARS-CoV) has since been implicated [2]. As of 4 a.m. 21st January (Beijing Time) 2020, 440 cases (including nine deaths) have been confirmed across 13 provinces in China, plus suspected cases in multiple other provinces [3]. As of 9:00 GMT 22nd January 7 confirmed cases in travellers from Wuhan with symptom onset on or before the 18th January were detected outside mainland China in Thailand (3 cases), Japan (1 case), South Korea (1 case), Taiwan (1 case) and the United States (1 case) [4–10]. Chinese authorities have also confirmed evidence of human-to-human transmission, as well as 15 cases in healthcare workers [11,12]. Of these cases, four travelled before exit screening in Wuhan International Airport was introduced on 15th January [13], three (South Korea, Taiwan, USA) on or after. Using the number of cases detected outside mainland China with who had disease onset by 18th January, it is possible (see Report 1 [14]) to infer the number of clinically comparable cases within Wuhan City that may have occurred thus far. Here we update our estimates to account for the additional international exported cases (7 cases). Summary We estimate that a total of 4,000 cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan City (uncertainty range: 1,000 – 9,700) had onset of symptoms by 18th January 2020 (the last reported onset date of any case) [15]. Our estimates should not be interpreted as implying the outbreak has doubled in size in the period 12th January to 18th January – delays in confirming and reporting exported cases and incomplete information about dates of symptom onset together with the still very small numbers of exported cases mean we are unable to estimate the epidemic growth rate at the current time. This estimate is based on the following assumptions:
  • Wuhan International Airport has a catchment population of 19 million individuals [1].
  • There is a mean 10-day delay between infection and detection, comprising a 5-6 day incubation period [16,17] and a 4-5 day delay from symptom onset to detection/hospitalisation of a case (the cases detected in Thailand and Japan were hospitalised 3 and 7 days after onset, respectively) [4,18].
  • Total volume of international travel from Wuhan over the last two months has been 3,301 passengers per day. This estimate is derived from the 3,418 foreign passengers per day in the top 20 country destinations based on 2018 IATA data [19], and uses 2016 IATA data held by Imperial College London to correct for the travel surge at Chinese New Year present in the latter data (which has not happened yet this year) and for travel to countries outside the top 20 destination list.
  • Exit screening (which reportedly came into force on the 15th January [13]) had no impact on exported cases reported up to 16th January. Exit screening may have reduced exports in recent days, in which case our baseline prediction may be an underestimate of the true number of cases in Wuhan.
  • We assume all cases in travellers flying to destinations outside mainland China are being detected at those destinations. This may well not be the case. If cases are being missed in other countries, our baseline prediction will underestimate the true number of cases in Wuhan.
  • We now report uncertainty as the range spanned by the 95% confidence intervals of the first three scenarios in Table 1. Thus, our uncertainty range represents uncertainty in key assumptions as well as statistical assumptions.
Additional caveats
  1. We assume that outbound trip durations are long enough that an infected Wuhan resident travelling internationally will develop symptoms and be detected overseas, rather than being detected after returning to Wuhan. We also do not account for the fact that international visitors to Wuhan (such as the case who was detected in Japan) might be expected to have a shorter duration of exposure and thus a lower infection risk than residents. Accounting for either factor correctly requires additional data but would increase our estimate of the total number of cases.
  2. We estimate the potential number of symptomatic cases with disease severity of a level requiring hospitalisation (both the cases detected in Thailand and Japan were moderately severe). Our estimates do not include cases with mild or no symptoms.
  3. The incubation period of 2019-nCov is not known and has been approximated with the estimates obtained for MERS-CoV and SARS [16,17].
  4. We assume that international travel is independent of the risk of exposure to 2019n-CoV and of infection status. If zoonotic exposure were biased towards wealthier people, travel frequency may be correlated with exposure. Also, some travel might be causally linked to infection status (to seek healthcare overseas) or the infection status of contacts in Wuhan (this may apply to the case detected in Japan) [18]. Accounting for either association would increase the probability of a case travelling and therefore reduce our estimates of the total number of cases.

This is more than a week old, so it’s already dated, but the background was particularly helpful to me:

The city of Wuhan in China is the focus of global attention due to an outbreak of a febrile respiratory illness due to a coronavirus 2019-nCoV. In December 2019, there was an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, Hubei province in China, with an epidemiological link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where there was also sale of live animals.

Notification of the WHO on 31 Dec 2019 by the Chinese Health Authorities has prompted health authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to step up border surveillance, and generated concern and fears that it could mark the emergence of a novel and serious threat to public health (WHO, 2020a, Parr, 2020).

The Chinese health authorities have taken prompt public health measures including intensive surveillance, epidemiological investigations, and closure of the market on 1 Jan 2020. SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, avian influenza, influenza and other common respiratory viruses were ruled out.

The Chinese scientists were able to isolate a 2019-nCoV from a patient within a short time on 7 Jan 2020 and perform genome sequencing of the 2019-nCoV. The genetic sequence of the 2019-nCoV has become available to the WHO on 12 Jan 2020 and this has facilitated the laboratories in different countries to produce specific diagnostic PCR tests for detecting the novel infection (WHO, 2020b).

The 2019-nCoV is a β CoV of group 2B with at least 70% similarity in genetic sequence to SARS-CoV and has been named 2019-nCoV by the WHO.

SARS is a zoonosis caused by SARS-CoV, which first emerged in China in 2002 before spreading to 29 countries/regions in 2003 through a travel-related global outbreak with 8,098 cases with a case fatality rate of 9.6%. Nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV was common while the primary reservoir was bats and the intermediary source was civet cats in the wet markets in Guangdong (Hui and Zumla, 2019).

MERS is a novel lethal zoonotic disease of humans endemic to the Middle East, caused by MERS-CoV. Humans are thought to acquire MERS-CoV infection though contact with camels or camel products with a case fatality rate close to 35% while nosocomial transmission is also a hallmark (Azhar et al., 2019).

The recent outbreak of clusters of viral pneumonia due to a 2019-nCoV in the Wuhan market poses significant threats to international health and may be related to sale of wild animal as game food at the seafood market.

International Journal of Infectious Diseases
It's now all but certain that the continued spread of the disease has nothing to do with animals, but is human-to-human.

A friend of mine who lives in Beijing posted that Shanghai is also closed and prohibiting travel in or out. I am trying to contact a few friends in Shanghai to check in the veracity of that claim.

One case detected so far in Australia. So a very small worry at this point, same as for the US.
But the note of caution here is worth “reading between the lines.”

‘I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago’: Growing fears of spreading coronavirus Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy has said the risk of a large-scale outbreak is low, but admits there is ‘no way of preventing this getting into the country if this becomes bigger’. Professor Murphy’s declaration came amid fears a man who arrived in Australia from China with flu-like symptoms may have contracted coronavirus. Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said earlier the results may not be known for several days as authorities require further medical information from China, but he has since been released from home isolation. ‘At the moment we can only do a generic test for coronavirus,’ Dr Young said. ‘We can’t do the specific test for this specific virus because we haven’t seen it before, so we’ve got to develop the specific tests to be able to say it’s this particular virus. ‘We don’t have the primer yet. The World Health Organization released [the primer] after China gave them specifics, so that’s now available. ‘We need to obtain the primers that have been developed against this specific coronavirus.’ The man was originally identified for testing after presenting to his GP with flu-like symptoms last month, leading Queensland authorities to ask GPs to collect specimens from any suspected cases and to send them to Brisbane. It is believed the man has family near the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the current outbreak started. The virus has now spread to Chinese cities other than Wuhan, including to places hundreds of kilometres away. Cases have also been reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Some scientists believe the disease, which is more closely related to SARS than any other coronavirus found in humans, may have already spread more widely than is reflected in the official figures. ‘For Wuhan to have exported three cases to other countries would imply there would have to be many more cases than have been reported,’ Professor Neil Ferguson, a scientist who specialises in analysing disease outbreaks, said. ‘I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago.’ But Professor Murphy has been clear in his belief that Australia is at low risk. ‘There is no need for alarm, and the risk to the Australian public from this novel coronavirus remains relatively low,’ he said. Professor Murphy added, however, that stricter screening measures would apply to direct flights travelling from Wuhan to Sydney in response to the ‘rapidly emerging situation’. The flights will be met by border security, biosecurity and staff from NSW Health. ‘Australia has well established mechanisms to respond to ill travellers at points of entry,’ he said. Professor Murphy also warned that, because 2019-nCoV has a one-week incubation period, it may not be possible to prevent its spread to Australia in the event of a large-scale outbreak. ‘You cannot absolutely prevent entry into the country of a disease like this,’ he said. ‘There’s no way of preventing this getting into the country if this becomes bigger.’
So...the spread of this disease is faster than expected for the stated number of cases. Either the stated number is too low or the transmission rate is very high. Either way, it means this is a very communicable disease, so pick which way makes you feel better and believe that.

Where do you get your elderberry syrup? I would love to have some on hand- just in case. Any details would be greatly appreciated. ?

The earliest definitive report of human-to-human spread I can find is from Jan 14th.

Evidence of human-to-human spread

Yesterday [Jan 14th], Wuhan's health department noted a family cluster of a husband who worked at the market and his wife, who had not been at the market, which appears to be the first indication of limited human-to-human spread. Today, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Wuhan authorities told visiting Hong Kong health officials that three members of the same household were among the 41 cases. They include a father, his son, and a cousin who ran a seafood stall at the market at the center of the investigation and got sick at the same time, suggesting that they may have been exposed to the same source. The market also sold live animals such as poultry, bats, and marmots, along with wildlife parts. The report also gave new information on environmental testing at the seafood market, following reports yesterday that some samples were positive for 2019-nCoV. One of the Hong Kong experts quoted in the SCMP story, Chuang Shuk-kwan, MBBS, said so far, only sample collected from the seafood section of the market tested positive, but experts don't think the chance of a seafood source is high and are looking for the source in animals. In a media briefing transcript posted today by Hong Kong's government, she said some of the cases were also clustered around the area of the market where seafood was sold. "So, they are chasing it, where the source is. But the investigation is still ongoing so there is no conclusion yet." A Chinese tourist tested positive for 2019-nCoV a few days ago while visiting Thailand, after frequenting a different market in Wuhan, heightening suspicions that the source of the virus may be other markets, as well. Preliminary environmental testing at other markets has not turned up any positives. (Source)

Taking it very seriously. Impressively, actually.
Will it be enough? From a random Twitter feed:

My cousin in China sent me this - Shanghai Hong Qiao airport found a person with fever from Wuhan. This is how they deal with this person (Source)

Here is some good elderberry syrup, tastes good to.

I dont recall if there was an alert when the ebola outbreaks were going a few years back. Is this more serious?

I dont recall if there was an alert when the ebola outbreaks were going a few years back. Is this more serious?
I did not issue an alert around ebola, and never even got close. This is far more serious. Seems to spread as easily as the common cold. Ebola has some other either vector based or mechanical means of spreading (like direct contact with fluids). Put a person with ebola on a plane and there's a damned good chance nobody else comes down with it. Put somebody with an infectious phase coronavirus on a plane and there's a damned good chance several to many people come down with it.

The ubiquitous use of keypads, touch screens and scribe pens at store checkouts, with continuous lines of people touching them, makes these very likely places to contact transmit viruses. Might a prudent action be to wear gloves, pay with cash, or both?

This from today:

China is offering to refund domestic flights and train tickets nationwide. An estimated 246,000 travelers arrived in Wuhan either via plane or train on Thursday before all transportation in and out of the city was shut down. The number of people leaving the city is currently unknown. The U.S. State Department on Thursday reiterated its level 2 travel advisory, indicating travels should “exercise increased caution.” The department earlier on Thursday errantly raised its travel advisory and urged citizens to “reconsider travel,” but reverted that change. The agency, in a statement, said its website “briefly displayed an inaccurate version of the Advisory due to a technical error – we apologize for any confusion. Again, the Advisory level has not changed.” U.S. health officials began screening passengers flying from China at major international airports this weekend, and confirmed the country’s first case on Tuesday. A Washington state man is quarantined with the virus in a hospital outside of Seattle after flying back from Wuhan, U.S. health authorities said. (Source - NBC)
This is so stupid that it's really hard to wrap one's head around it. I mean if this was 1850, okay, but it's not. It's 2020, or so I've been told. Let me state this plainly; screening for symptoms of inbound passengers is totally, completely useless for a virus with a long incubation period. Exclamation point! That's the thing about incubation periods - they don't have symptoms. There's nothing to screen for, so screening does nothing. The US State Department isn't even willing to say that traveling to Wuhan is a bad idea. That might - I don't know - piss off the Chinese authorities, or compromise some airlines profits. Again, plainly; if the US State Department cared at all about such things as human life or preventing a pandemic they'd put a travel ban in place, or at least their highest level of warning. I can only imagine the poor CDC officials and scientists trying unsuccessfully to get a few lunkheaded politicians to listen. It's the plot line of a lot of disaster films. Given all this, there's no chance at all that the Wuhan virus isn't going to travel far and wide, and probably already has. It's probably arriving right this minute at Gate 22.

Just in case there was any doubt:

Health officials hesitated Wednesday to designate the virus as a global emergency, trying to contain the fast-spreading illness without unnecessarily spooking global trade.
Global trade >>> human life. How is that in any way morally defensible? There are days when I actively cheer for the demise of the system, and this is one of those times.
Make your own. We grew elderberries in our own garden. In our biozone elderberries grow vigorously and are abundant with little or no care. The only problem is that they risk becoming weed shrubs.

This is anecdotal at best, but completely harmless and a worthwhile precaution. My wife started reading a bunch of mommy blogs that recommend extremely high doses of vitamin C to prevent and reduce symptoms of colds and the flu. We have two toddlers and last year we were sick constantly. We’ve started giving our kids 50mg/day while they’re healthy and 200/mg a day at the first sign of a cold. I personally take 1,000mg/day and 2,000 when I’m going to be traveling or around sick people (a lot recently). I combine this with elderberry and raw garlic if I feel a twing of a cold coming on. So far this year I have had one minor cold. The girls came down with the flu and I bumped my vitamin C intake up to 3,000mg/day for a week. I was covered in snot and literally thrown up on multiple times. I could feel the first signs of the flu, but they never got hold of me. We’re now 2 weeks past it and I feel fine. It might be placebo or coincidence, but I’m going to keep it up. The maximum recommended dose of VitC is 2,000mg/day, but I am 6’10 and 230 lbs so I figured I could push it a bit. Above that there is some risk of developing kidney stones. I was skeptical at first because I had heard that your body can only absorb so much and beyond that point you’re just making expensive pee. VitC is not fat soluble and therefore passes quickly with water rather than storing in your cells. My wife convinced me to try anyway and I’m glad I did. My current hypothesis is that I’m creating an acidic environment which is unwelcoming to viruses. I’ve read that families with kids average 6-7 colds per year. So far we’re about half way through the cold season and I’ve only had one mild cold. The kids have had none. I’ve been on airplanes constantly this year too. Yes, my kids got the flu, but we were giving them considerably lower mg/kg doses of vitamin C and frankly, toddlers have terrible hygiene (like the worst…they’re so gross!) and less developed immune systems.

We’re planning to plant them this summer. Will they take over? Is there any way to keep them under control?

I mowed them when I saw new shoots emerging. An herbicide would probably work too, but I avoid them.
In a technical sense, I don’t believe they are “invasive” since I think they are a native species. They are easy to find around the edges of woods, but the berries are smaller and less abundant in the wild shrubs.